Arkansas Cruises with Big 2nd Half at Auburn, Wins as Road Favorite

Rocket Sanders, Arkansas vs Auburn
photo credit: Nick Wenger

When the Arkansas football team takes the field Saturday morning at Jordan-Hare Stadium, it will do so as the betting favorite.

It’s a rare spot for the Razorbacks, as it’ll be just the 30th time they haven’t been the underdog — at least at sports books — in a true road SEC game since 1997, according to research by Best of Arkansas Sports.

(Scroll below for live updates from the Arkansas vs Auburn game)

In the previous 29 matchups, Arkansas is 16-13 straight up and 9-19-1 against the spread, so it doesn’t necessarily bode well for its 11 a.m. CT kickoff at Auburn.

Perhaps it’s not surprising considering the hole Sam Pittman has had to dig the Razorback football program out of, but that record has taken in a hit over the past decade or so. In fact, the last time the Razorbacks covered as a road favorite in an SEC game was 2010, when they needed two overtimes to beat Mississippi State 38-31 as 3-point favorites.

Since then, Arkansas has won half of its games as an SEC road favorite, but hasn’t covered in any of them. It lost five straight against the spread before finally notching a push at LSU last year.

That 1-5-1 record against the spread comes out to a .214 winning percentage, which is the worst among SEC West teams in such games since 2010, according to research by

TeamW-L Against the SpreadW-L Straight Up
Texas A&M12-7 (.632)11-8 (.579)
Auburn13-8-1 (.614)15-7 (.682)
LSU17-12-1 (.583)24-6 (.800)
Alabama24-25-1 (.490)42-8 (.840)
Mississippi State8-9 (.471)10-7 (.588)
Ole Miss4-12-1 (.265)6-11 (.353)
Arkansas1-5-1 (.214)4-3 (.571)

Simply winning as an SEC road favorite is hard enough. In addition to needing double overtime to beat the Bulldogs back in 2010, the Razorbacks also needed overtime to beat LSU last year. In back-to-back weeks in 2011, during an 11-win season, they rallied from a 17-0 deficit to beat Ole Miss and then needed a 94-yard scoop-and-score by Jerry Franklin to avoid an embarrassing loss at Vanderbilt.

Being favored to beat Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium is certainly a rarity, too, as it’s the first time Arkansas is the favorite there since 1998. That year, the Razorbacks barely covered the 2.5-point spread in a 24-21 victory.

They’re hoping for a similar result Saturday, but would take the victory any way they can get it, even if they come up short of the 3.5 points they’re giving up in Vegas.

Live Updates – Arkansas vs Auburn

Arkansas Wins Pregame Coin Toss

The Razorbacks won the toss and, like in the last game against BYU, chose to receive the opening kickoff.

Jefferson Sacked, Arkansas Goes Three-and-Out – 13:30, 1Q

Auburn brought the pressure on the first play of the game and it resulted in a 13-yard sack via intentional grounding. Rocket Sanders picked up some good yardage on back-to-back runs, but was well short of the line to gain. Arkansas goes three-and-out to open the game.

After a delay of game penalty, Reid Bauer shanked a 27-yard punt to give Auburn excellent field position.

Auburn Misses FG – 10:06, 1Q

The Tigers were marching down the field and close to getting into the red zone when Tank Bigsby appeared to get stripped and Dwight McGlothern came out with the ball. He was ruled down on the field, but it went to a replay review. The ruling stood after review.

A third-down sack by Chris Paul Jr. forces Auburn to attempt a field goal. But he hooked the 46-yarder wide left.

Jadon Haselwood Fumbles

Arkansas goes backwards to start its second drive, too, as Sanders was dropped for a 3-yard loss. The Razorbacks ended up picking up a first down with a third-down completion, but Jadon Haselwood fumbled on the play and Auburn recovered near midfield.

Auburn Strikes First

5:55, 1Q – Auburn 3, Arkansas 0

The Tigers got a first down, but a third-down incompletion limited them to another field goal attempt. This time, Carlson’s 46-yard boot is good.

Jefferson Caps Excellent Drive

3:10, 1Q – Arkansas 7, Auburn 3

A pass interference on Auburn gets the drive started with a first down, immediately making it better than Arkansas’ first two possessions. After a few runs by Sanders, Jefferson hits Warren Thompson in stride for a big gain that gets the Hogs inside the 10.

Another two runs by Sanders got Arkansas down to the 1 and Jefferson kept it on third down for a touchdown. The play went to replay and stood as called.

Arkansas covered 75 yards on eight plays. Rocket Sanders is already up to 46 yards on nine carries.

Arkansas Forces Punt – 0:19, 1Q

After getting a first down, Auburn took a deep shot and Simeon Blair broke up a slightly under thrown pass. The Razorbacks ended up forcing a punt on that set of downs, as Auburn threw an incomplete pass on a screen.

END of 1Q – Arkansas 7, Auburn 3

KJ Jefferson kept it for a 4-yard run up the middle on the final play of the first quarter.

Jefferson Breaks Tackles on TD Run

10:27, 2Q – Arkansas 14, Auburn 3

Jefferson stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike to Haselwood just before the pass rush got to him. It’s another third-down conversion by Arkansas. A 12-yard run on a QB draw by Jefferson moved the Razorbacks into Auburn territory.

A couple of penalties helped the Razorbacks get inside the 30 before another first-down play lost yardage, this time a run by Green. It didn’t hurt, though, because Jefferson hit Haselwood on the very next play for a first down.

On another third-down play, Jefferson threw to Landers in the end zone and it fell incomplete, but there were offsetting penalties on the play. Getting another shot, Jefferson broke several tackles on a 13-yard touchdown run.

Auburn Punts Again – 7:01, 2Q

Arkansas had a chance to force a three-and-out, but Ashford hit a receiver on an out route to move the chains. That was it for the Tigers, though, as the Razorbacks stopped them on the next third down.

Penalties Kill Arkansas’ Drive – 5:18, 2Q

Arkansas opened its drive with a screen pass to Bryce Stephens that picked up some solid yards, but Ketron Jackson was called for holding, once again putting the Razorbacks behind the sticks.

Rocket Sanders made several guys miss on a shovel pass that went for 24 yards, but Hudson Henry was called for an illegal block, so the Hogs are still way behind the sticks. Facing a third-and-19, Arkansas uses its first timeout of the half.

Out of the timeout, the Razorbacks handed it off to Sanders. He picked up seven yards and limped off the field.

Reid Bauer got off a booming punt and Auburn let it drop. It bounced quite a bit and ended up being a 78-yarder.

Ashford Keeps it Alive, Bigsby Scores

3:43, 2Q – Arkansas 14, Auburn 10

Arkansas had Auburn stopped for a three-and-out, but Ashford managed to not only scramble out of it, but he ran for 34 yards on the play. A couple plays later, Tank Bigsby broke free for a 41-yard touchdown run. He had just 16 yards on his first seven carries.

Big Pass to Landers Sets up FG

2:25, 2Q – Arkansas 17, Auburn 10

After a kickoff out of bounds by Auburn, Arkansas aired it out and connected with Matt Landers for a 55-yard gain. That got the Razorbacks inside the 10, but they stalled out. Cam Little’s 27-yard field goal splits the uprights.

Defense Forces Three-and-Out – 1:14, 2Q

Arkansas forces a three-and-out and Pittman calls a timeout with 1:21 remaining in order to give his offense time to do something before halftime. The Hogs will have great field position thanks to a 24-yard punt.

Hogs Waste Opportunity – 0:50, 2Q

Despite the great field position, Arkansas can’t do anything with it. A couple of incompletions sandwiched a run a penalty put the Razorbacks in a third down, and then Jefferson was sacked. Auburn used its first timeout to stop the clock and then Bauer shanked a 24-yard punt.

Auburn Tacks on a FG

0:03, 2Q – Arkansas 17, Auburn 13

Hudson Clark had a chance to end the possession with an interception, but couldn’t quite reel it in. Auburn made Arkansas pay for it, completing a couple of passes to get into field goal range in the closing seconds. Instead of settling, the Tigers got another play in and Ashford completed a pass inside the 10 to make it a much easier kick. Carlson’s 24-yard field goal was good.

HALF – Arkansas 17, Auburn 13

Blocked FG by Arkansas – 8:37, 3Q

The Razorbacks had a chance to open the second half by forcing a three-and-out, but Ashford scrambled for a first down. The Tigers converted another third down, this one a third-and-1, before facing a third-and-12 on the next set of downs. They converted that one, too, on a pass to his tight end.

Finally, on a third-and-7, Jordan Domineck sacked Ashford for a loss of 7. That set up a 52-yard FG and Arkansas blocked it.

Jadon Haselwood Touchdown

6:02, 3Q – Arkansas 24, Auburn 13

A penalty and sack put Arkansas behind the chains once again, but a nice run by Sanders put the Hogs in a manageable third down and Jefferson threw a nice back-shoulder pass to Landers to get the first down. A couple more big runs by Sanders got them into the red zone.

On third down, Jefferson fired a strike to Haselwood over the middle for an 11-yard touchdown.

Auburn Punts, Pins Arkansas Deep – 4:10, 3Q

Myles Slusher nearly jumped in front of a pass on the first play, but it was just out of his reach and Auburn ended up completing it for a first down. The Razorbacks ended up forcing a punt with the help of Ashford missing a wide open receiver that would have moved the sticks.

Auburn’s punt went 51 yards. Stephens called for a fair catch and decided at the last second to let it go. It nearly touched him and was downed at the 5.

Sanders Sets up Dubinion TD

0:44, 3Q – Arkansas 31, Auburn 13

Sanders rips off a 76-yard run to open the drive. A few plays later, Jefferson scrambled on third down to move the chains. On third-and-goal, Rashod Dubinion took a direct snap and scored from 2 yards out.

END of 3Q – Arkansas 31, Auburn 13

Sack by Slusher Forces Punt – 14:13, 4Q

Myles Slusher hit Ashford hard behind the line of scrimmage and the sack forced Auburn to punt. Arkansas used its first timeout of the half before the punt, though. The punt went out of bounds at the 16.

Dubinion Scored 2nd TD

7:35, 4Q – Arkansas 38, Auburn 13

Landers catches a pass to move the chains and go over 100 yards. He’s up to 115 yards on four catches. Later in the drive, Jefferson stood in the pocket for a while before taking off and running for 25 yards on third down. Ketron Jackson took the ball on an end-around and got Arkansas into the red zone.

A few plays later, Dubinion punched it in from 2 yards out.

Auburn Makes Pair of Tough Catches

5:28, 4Q – Arkansas 38, Auburn 20

Ja’Varrius Johnson makes a really tough catch over the middle for a 36-yard gain. After another completion, Auburn got inside the red zone. The drive was capped by an incredible 9-yard touchdown grab by Camden Brown.

Arkansas Puts in the Backups

Auburn attempted an onside kick, Bumper Pool scooped it up and returned it inside the 10. However, a penalty on Jordan Crook wiped it out. On their second try, the Tigers kicked it out of bounds before the ball went 10 yards. That gives Arkansas the ball at the Auburn 42.

The Razorbacks picked up a first down, Auburn called a timeout and Malik Hornsby was at quarterback when play resumed. In fact, the entire second-team offense is in the game.

Little Tacks on FG

1:55, 4Q – Arkansas 41, Auburn 20

The backups got into the red zone before penalties backed them up and killed the drive. Arkansas called a timeout with 2:01 remaining while facing a fourth-and-15. The Razorbacks called on Little for a 37-yard field, which he made.

Auburn Scores Garbage Time TD

0:04, 4Q – Arkansas 41, Auburn 27

A 49-yard pass play set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Jarquez Hunter.

FINAL – Arkansas 41, Auburn 27

Pregame Tidbits – Arkansas vs Auburn

Auburn has announced freshman Holden Geriner as its starting quarterback against Arkansas. However, Robby Ashford started.

The Razorbacks will be without cornerback Malik Chavis, who did not make the trip after suffering a concussion against BYU.

How to Watch Arkansas vs Auburn

Date: Saturday, Oct. 29b

Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn, Ala.)

Kickoff Time and TV Schedule: 11 a.m. CT (SEC Network)

Announcers: Dave Neal (play-by-play), Deuce McAllister (analyst), Andraya Carter (sideline reporter)

Auburn’s Rankings: NR (AP) | NR (Coaches) | No. 43 (SP+) | No. 47 (FPI)

Arkansas’ Rankings: RV (AP) | RV (Coaches) | No. 33 (SP+) | No. 43 (FPI)

Arkansas vs Auburn Predictions

Here are several picks — including from our own managing editor, Andrew Hutchinson — and computer projections for the Arkansas vs Auburn matchup…

Andrew Hutchinson, BoAS (preseason): Arkansas, 41-13 (click here to read Hutch’s full preseason predictions)

You don’t need me to remind you what happened the last time Arkansas visited Auburn. Last year, the Razorbacks hosted the Tigers at the tail end of a murder’s row, having already played Texas A&M, Georgia and Ole Miss away from home the previous three weeks and turned in probably their flattest performance of the season. This year, Arkansas gets Auburn after an open date and those two games should provide plenty of motivation for Pittman’s squad. Considering you never know what kind of calls you’ll get in Auburn, the Razorbacks probably need to take the game out of the officials’ hands and beat the Tigers soundly — which is just what I’m predicting to happen. It may be such an embarrassing loss that Bryan Harsin doesn’t make it through the weekend with a job.

Andrew Hutchinson, BoAS (updated): Arkansas, 42-27

At least one side of this game appears to be a classic movable force meets a stoppable object, as Arkansas ranks 120th nationally in total defense and Auburn ranks 80th in total offense. However, when the two teams flip sides of the ball, the Tigers have struggled against the run (119th in the FBS) and the Razorbacks would probably prefer to keep things on the ground, especially with someone as dominant as Rocket Sanders in the backfield. The other thing to consider is Auburn’s minus-11 turnover margin, which is dead last in the country. As much as the Razorbacks’ defense has struggled, it thrives when the other team gives the ball away. I think that happens a few times and helps Arkansas keep a healthy lead for most of the game.

Vegas (using spread and O/U): Arkansas, 32-28.5

ESPN FPI: Arkansas has a 43.7% chance to win (up 13.6 percentage points from preseason projection)

Bill Connelly’s SP+: Auburn has a 50% chance to win, favored by 0.2 (projected score: 30-29)

Sagarin: Arkansas has a 59% chance to win, favored by 3.16 (projected score: 28.2-25.0)


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